For Immediate Release - January 08, 2014

Governor Patrick Launches Next Phase of 'Mass HIway' Health Information Exchange to Help Reduce Costs and Save Lives


 Governor Patrick launches the next phase of the Massachusetts Health Information Exchange (Mass HIway) that will help health care providers save lives, coordinate care and reduce costs at the Shapiro Simulation and Skills Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. (Photo: Eric Haynes / Governor's Office) 

BOSTON – Wednesday, January 8, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today launched the next phase of the Mass HIway Health Information Exchange, joining health care leaders at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to demonstrate the innovative new tools that will allow providers for the first time to locate, request and retrieve medical records from other participating healthcare providers across the Commonwealth on a secure, interconnected system with a click of a button.

The event included a hands-on demonstration of the new technology in a simulated medical setting, where the Governor witnessed doctors working to help a patient by retrieving the patient’s health information from other health care organizations in real-time.

“This technology is a win for all of us – it will help us reduce health costs, improve patient care and save lives,” said Governor Patrick. “Accurate health information is the fuel of our health care system, and these innovations will allow providers to treat patients with greater accuracy and speed.”

As a result of the Governor’s leadership, Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to receive federal funding through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop the Health Information Exchange. Leveraging federal funds of up to $22.3 million, the initiative will assist the Patrick Administration’s efforts to improve health care quality and outcomes for all Massachusetts’ residents.

“The new MassHIway technology enables providers to more quickly diagnose patient conditions,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) John Polanowicz. “It will allow providers to better prevent medical errors such as drug-to-drug or allergic reactions; and will help discontinue fax and paper-based records that take precious time and cost millions of dollars.”

The Mass HIway went live for use by the Massachusetts healthcare community on October 16, 2012. At the launch, Governor Patrick’s physician sent the Governor’s medical record across the state securely over the Mass HIway in real time. In its first year, 55 institutions have already connected and are using the Mass HIway to support care coordination, case management, quality reporting and public health.

At Wednesday’s event, emergency department clinicians at BIDMC simulated an encounter where a patient presented was unresponsive, but using the Mass Hiway, doctors discovered the patient had medical records at Atrius Health, Holyoke Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center. Doctors used the Mass HIway to request and retrieve these records. With a comprehensive medical history on the patient, the care team avoided drug-to-drug and allergic reactions, duplicative testing and delayed diagnosis, and was able to treat the patient with greater speed and safety.

“Making this exchange available to providers across the care continuum will support our quality improvement goals that align with the Affordable Care Act and Massachusetts’ health reform,” said BIDMC CIO and Health Information Technology Council member Dr. John Halamka.

The Mass HIway helps health care providers measure and report clinical quality measures, which can be used by MassHealth and private insurers as part of implementing new bundled payment approaches to compensating healthcare providers. The Mass HIway has also been extended to enable clinicians to electronically submit required information to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health directly from their electronic health record systems. Required submissions include immunization information, cancer case information, and other information required to further the goals of monitoring and improving public health.

"The Mass HIway will provide Holyoke a mechanism to extend its capability to share clinical information with primary providers and payers to manage chronic disease patients across the continuum to reduce hospital readmissions and improve population health,” said Holyoke Medical Center Vice President of Operations and CIO Carl Cameron. “Holyoke is excited to be a part of this next phase of The Mass HIway.”

“This new functionality will greatly enhance the ability of clinicians to have access to a patient's health information at the point of care, which can only improve care and reduce cost”, said Director of Clinical Informatics at Atrius Health Dr. Michael Lee.

“Tufts Medical Center is proud to continue our participation in the evolution of the Mass HIway,” said Tufts Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Saul Weingart, MD. “Comprehensive patient information is critical to patient safety. It is a worthy goal to provide this information no matter where the patient is on the HIway at any given time. We look forward to making this advancement a reality and furthering Massachusetts’ reputation as a health care innovator.”

"I've long said that Massachusetts leads the way in health care delivery nationally and this is especially true in the area of health care IT,” said BIDMC President and CEO Kevin Tabb, MD. “The ability to access records from care providers throughout the state is a critical step forward in providing the very best care we can for our patients in the most efficient way possible."

“As more providers and hospitals adopt The Mass HIway, it will become a critical tool in health care delivery and operations,” said HHS CIO Manu Tandon. “Our goal is to assist the Commonwealth’s care community to efficiently use the technology to realize its full potential.”

“Through the leadership and vision of the Patrick Administration, the Legislature, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute, and our state’s visionary healthcare providers, Massachusetts continues to be an innovator and leader in the implementation of world-class Health IT solutions,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “We’re glad to partner with the state to help health care providers access and use The Mass HIway to better coordinate patient care.”

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